Success and Evolution

INTERVIEW/ARTICLE/REVIEW:  

As you all remember, I found an interview with Craig last week... so this week I went searching and got one with Greg! It took me a long time to find this and it's pretty cool so you better check it out:

By: Max Sidman

Every band dreams of stardom. Going from the top of a local scene to the buzz of a national scene is the stuff that rock stars are made of; just about any musician out there is a liar if they say the thought of rock stardom is not attractive. Of course, for some musicians, the idea of making a comfortable living is a bit easier to deal with than being recognized at the grocery store. But such is the nature of fame. Portland rock pioneers Everclear know what it's like to go from hometown heroes to big-time stars, but according to drummer Greg Eklund, the road Everclear took to the top wasn't as quick an assent as many thought, and what Eklund describes as the "dramatic hit" of fame isn't much to speak of.

"We spent three years playing 300 hundred shows a year in bars and wherever else we could. But by the time we did get some success, we realized that it wasn't quite the radical jump that people tend to think it is," said Eklund. "At the same time, yeah, we have had success and it's something that we'd always hoped for, dreamed of and worked for."

Perhaps it was the hard work that softened the hit of fame the trio, hard work that continues on today. During the time Eklund spoke with The Synthesis, he was at home in Los Angeles, where he now lives in order to be with his wife. Everclear was taking a break from the current tour promoting the group's latest Capitol Records effort, "So Much for the Afterglow." It was only a three day break for Eklund - three days out of a total six from last October to this coming July. The hard work apparently never stops.

"That's the way it is," admits Eklund. "You gotta promote the record."

But even while Eklund and his band mates, guitarist/singer Art Alexakis and bass player Craig Montoya, have achieved national recognition, the band hasn't yet achieved the outlandish degree of celebrity that causes scenes in public places - something that Eklund appreciates.

"We're not like U2 or anything. It's not on the level of instant riot if anyone recognizes us. People are usually pretty cool about it. Besides, Art gets most of that," said Eklund. "I kinda' get the luxury of being able to play drums for a living and not having to deal with a lot of the bad stuff that comes along with being in a well-known rock band."

Eklund, in fact, is not at all comfortable with the thought of being a rock star.

"I'm not a rock star. I don't know what that is," he said.

He is happy making a living playing the drums, and, in fact, that is what he likes most about being a rock star (even though he's not one).

"It may sound cheesy, but that fact is, [playing drums] is all I ever wanted to do. I mean, I get to play drums for a living. And I think I also really enjoy the travel aspects of being in a band."

Eklund may like travelling, but judging by the extensive and rigorous schedule of Everclear, he can judge several places he been by only their hotels and airports. Still, Eklund likes to travel nonetheless.

"It's like if I wake up and I'm in Tokyo. I may have 14 hours of interviews coming up, but so what. I'm waking up in Tokyo. I used to wake up and go to my steel foundry job."

Though Eklund says he enjoyed his steel foundry job - it was honest work for honest pay. He said it didn't satisfy his creative urge, and he found it's tedium mind numbing. He likes being able to make a living being creative these days. But rock stardom isn't all the good life in exotic locales. For Eklund, being away from his wife and his friends all the time is really difficult and puts a strain on him. But at this point in the life of Everclear, Eklund and his partners know this is what they have to do.

"One in a million bands get signed, and one in a million of those bands actually get their record put out, and even fewer have any sort of success. We're lucky. There'll plenty of time to rest later," Eklund said.

By doing what they know they have to do, the members of Everclear are furthering the existence of a band that has grown steadily over five years, with Eklund taking his place in band three years ago. Throughout the group's lifetime, from its first release, "World of Noise" to "So Much for the Afterglow," there is a marked evolution.

"I think every record takes Everclear further. If you listen to "So Much" and then "World of Noise", obviously, there's a huge jump there, but I think they both sound like Everclear," explained Eklund. "We want to keep changing and evolving, but we're not going to put out, like, a jazz opus record. It's all still Art's songs and Art's voice, and we just keep pushing the boundaries within the band. As long as we're true to ourselves-in the studio and on the road not trying to make a hit single but making music that the three of us are happy with-then the band's natural evolution will continue."

Besides the rock star aspects of the music business, there are the actual business aspects of the music business, and with the help of Alexakis, Eklund and Montoya are learning their way through the murky waters of the recording industry. Alexakis is 35 years old - eight years older than his two-band mates - and, aside from owning his own independent record label, San Francisco's "Shindig Records," he's been through plenty as a musician.

"Art is older than we are," explained Eklund. "And not just in age, he's been in several bands, almost signed many times, and he's been through the ringer. He's very business savvy."

With Alexakis leading the way, the band decides on every aspect of their business, right down to the CD cover art, poster art, publicity, etc. The point is, no one looks out for your career better than you do.

"We're very hands on because if something happened and it all ended tomorrow, I'd much rather have it be because of a mistake I made rather than by some dude in an office somewhere."

A complete knowledge of the band's musical and business aspects may be what has given Everclear an insight that many bands seem lack, as evidenced by Eklund's predictions for the band's future. According to Eklund, he and his band mates feel they have one or two more albums in them, and after that, it's all up in the air.

"None of us want to be doing this for the next ten years," asserted Eklund. "Art's gonna do a solo record soon and after that, maybe a record or two, and then we're hanging up the shoes and moving on. I think at that point, we'll all be ready to move on. We're certainly not afraid to let it go when we feel like we're done."